Last week, this writer shared information on how struggling musicians are coping with finding work amid the COVID-19 pandemic. A beautiful new CD called the Bay Area Jazz Society Presents the “Higher Power Project” (HPP), has been designed to provide financial assistance to those musicians and artists who are having trouble coping financially in today’s serious health and economic climate.
Most of the songs on the HPP CD were written and produced by Bay Area drummer and musician Paul Tillman Smith. The title track, “Higher Power,” could be called the National Anthem of Recovery.
Profits from the HPP will go into a special fund to help musicians and artists of all ages. Also, part of HPP’s mission is to provide a helping hand to those musicians, who have dedicated their lives making people happy through music but have no personal retirement or pension for their later years.
Former American Idol finalist Donnie Williams is the featured vocalist on 10 of the CD’s 14 tracks. The song was created after Williams was removed from the 2004 contest. Higher Power was recently named the inspirational song of the year by a national contest sponsored by Tyler Perry, BET, Lions Gate Films and Pastor Marvin Winans, who proclaimed the song, as sung by Donnie, the “winner by far.”
“This CD will take the music industry by storm,” said Williams. “I’m so honored and proud that I was able to contribute to this project. Paul has influenced so many young artists including H.E.R., Sheila E., and Rosie Gaines. It has been a blessing to work with him.”
Also performing a duet with Williams is Talita Long, the mother of world-renowned actress Nia Long. She is the featured vocalist on the soothing and soulful song “Wishes,” a song about what one would wish the world could become.
“I’m grateful to Paul because he’s doing so much to help older Black musicians,” said Long. “This CD will be a blessing for many artists and musicians and I’m honored to have been a part of it.”
A songwriter and visual artist herself, Long noted that “it was such a pleasure to work with Paul because he does a lot for the community. I performed for him at the Berkeley Juneteenth festival where he was the artistic director for many years and was a co-founder.”
Also featured is Derick Hughes, the son of Oakland vocalist Freddie Hughes. Derick calls Tillman his Godfather. The younger Hughes was Roberta Flack’s duet partner for the last nine years until Flack became unable to travel. Hughes has also recorded with Prince and Motown.
Other featured vocalists on the HPP are Williams’ sister Terrill Carter, Robert Collier, Michael Cheadle and his daughter Mickala. Also included are Denise Stewart, Yolandra Rhodes, Nelson Braxton, Levi Seacer Jr., Vincent Lars, Sundra Manning, Freddie Hughes, Kev Choice, Tarika Lewis, Jeanie Tracy and Carl Lockett.
You can purchase the CD at CD Baby, iTunes and other outlets or donate at PayPal using email@example.com. Correspondence can also be sent to P.O. Box 3578, Berkeley, CA 94703. Contact Paul Tillman Smith at (510) 689-3332. Web site: BayAreaJazzSociety.org.